Ryan's Budget

It's All Medicare All the Time

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Fred Bauer laments that with the selection of Paul Ryan to be Romney's vice president, the election will now focus entirely on Medicare.

As a consequence, every other policy issue that has nothing to do with entitlements will get crowded out:

So Romney and his fellow Republicans should not let the focus slip too much from the theme of economic restoration and renewal. And I for one am doubtful that reducing the deficit or cutting spending alone will solve our economic problems. Many other structural risks are posed to the American economy. For instance, banking reform could be a key policy and political move for Romney. We still live in an era of too-big-to-fail. Many on the right have become increasingly aware of how TBTF endangers both economic growth and the freedom of the American economy. It seems very likely that the president's signature financial reform initiative, Dodd-Frank, has made it worse. Finance will need to be made a market again (rather than a government-backed syndicate) in order for the economy to take off.

Our immigration system and lack of immigration enforcement still place burdens upon the middle class---both native-born Americans and legal immigrants. Our trade policies often incentivize the intervention of foreign governments into the American economy, mocking rather than living up to the spirit of free trade and free enterprise. Our regulatory structures too often encourage deindustrialization and rent-seeking. Our tax policies are larded through with loopholes for interests connected to those in power. Debt and stagnating incomes have led to a troubled housing sector. A lack of a smart energy policy drains our growth. Disappointment and diminishing resources have been the story for too many Americans. Inner-city families still struggle with urban blight and decay. Our health-care system is in need of market reforms.

A host of challenges face our economy and our society---and not all these challenges can be met through the budget. Entitlement reform, if it is to be advanced, may work best as part of a broader menu of needed reforms. Denouncing the president's Mediscare tactics may rally the base, but it will not persuade the middle and it will not alone put the economy back on the path to prosperity.